Discussion Questions: Chapter Eight

“Parenting for a Positive Present…and Future”

This chapter focuses on the most powerful antidote to bullying–and the best approach to preventing it. Simply stated, positive parents do not neglect or abuse their children. Instead, they fill their basic needs with kindness and compassion.

Q: This chapter makes many statements about what Positive Parenting is. Can you find them all? How do these statements resonate with you?

“Positive parenting has nothing to do with being ‘perfect.'” (p. 137)

Q: Were your parents perfectionists? If so, how did it affect you, and how you relate to your own kids?

“Building a family is like building a house. You start with a vision and plans…. An optimistic vision can give meaning and purpose to the ongoing and often draining tasks of parenting. How you envision your life is extremely important because it plays into everything else.” (p. 137)

Q: What is your optimistic vision for your children and your family? Does it include feeling happy and having good relationships?

“If you had a difficult childhood but have come to make sense of those experiences, you are not bound to re-create the same negative interactions with your own children.” (p. 146)

Q: In what ways are you a better parent than your folks? What experiences, insights, and/or skills have helped you loosen the grip of old negative attitudes, behaviors, or habits?

“When you have a parenting challenge, remember: ‘Misbehavior’ is not a challenge to your authority, but an unmet need, a reaction to unrealistic expectations, or an expression of pain. Do not take uncooperative behavior personally!” (p. 141)

Q: Have you ever noticed “red flag” phrases like the ones listed, coming out of your mouth? Give an example.

“Remind yourself that your child’s brain will not be fully developed until his or her mid-twenties.” (p. 141)

Q: How did you/could you/would you reframe those “red flag” thoughts into “green flag” thoughts?

 

And remember, this question is always a good one:

Q: What sentence, paragraph, or idea popped out at you, or stuck with you after reading?

 

Homework: Is there one thing you would like to do differently, as a parent? Share with a friend in the group, and report back to them.

Reply in the Comments, below!

Looking for resource links? Click here.

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A Return to School But Not to Bullying

middle school is where kids need the clearest message.

The return to school can be filled with hopeful anticipation for some, but anxiety and apprehension as well. Many schools have anti-bullying programs to discourage bullying; these work best when parents are involved, and information is reinforced at home. In families and child-care centers—long before the first day of kindergarten—kids learn skills and behaviors that establish how they will get along with others. Adults can superpower their kids with inner strength by: Continue reading

What if There Had Been Upstanders When…

A program in central Florida has reframed bullying and put it in a “woah” context.

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Logo_Image_2-290x141UpStanders: Stand Up To Bullying uses the history and lessons of the Holocaust, in particular the stories of Rescuers or Righteous Gentiles, to inspire students to become UpStanders rather than bystanders. The goal is to make the community one in which diversity is celebrated, and everyone feels respected and safe. The example of Rescuer behavior during the Holocaust is used to teach students the importance of guarding the rights and safety of others. It is a five-part initiative that is presented to middle school students over a two-school year period.In the UpStanders program, students learn how and when to what to do safely intervene when they witness bullying. It is based on solid research that tells us that the single most effective intervention to interrupt bullying behavior is for bystanders to step in and step up for other students.

via Upstanders | Education | The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida.

“Congratulations on a huge achievement.”

Dr. Laura Markham

When Dr. Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids and founder of Aha! Parenting, started reading our book, she wasn’t thrilled at an early part that says “hitting kids in anger contributes to bullying.” Because, she says, “I think all hitting contributes to bullying.” But after she finished the The Bullying Antidote, she said:

The National Institute of Health reports that 15% of students in the US miss school every day because they’re afraid of being intimidated or even attacked by other students. Clearly, something is very wrong with a culture that creates such stressful, dangerous conditions for kids and teens. But what is it about our culture that has given rise to such pervasive bullying?

Hart and Caven’s comprehensive book acknowledges societal pressures, but suggests that our culture’s child-raising practices too often lay the foundations of bullying. Certainly, they point out, kids who are abused at home are at risk of becoming bullies. But even children who are raised “in good homes” can feel bullied when parents shame them, call them names, spank them, or don’t protect them from sibling violence. Kids who feel bullied at home are primed to become victims with their peers, or to become bullies themselves.

Luckily, most of The Bullying Antidote focuses on solutions. Parents will find pointers to help kids who are being bullied, as well as to help kids who witness bullying, and even to intervene to help their child who is acting like a bully. The last half of the book is essentially a primer on positive parenting, designed to help parents evolve their child-raising to give their child the self-regard and social skills that are so essential to navigate a complex social world without bullying or being bullied.

Taming the Troubled Brain


Raising kids is a demanding job. When we’re tired or stressed or don’t feel good, our emotions can get triggered and we can do things that can overpower and harm our children. Explosive outbursts – yelling and screaming, for example – frighten children. As a little girl, when my mother lost her temper, yelled, and punished us, it struck terror in my heart – and damaged the love, trust and connection. Later as a mother, when I lost my temper and yelled, I felt guilty. With explosive outbursts everyone feels bad—and kids can take it out by bullying others.

The important question to ask: how can we put the brakes on out-of-control emotions so they don’t explode and damage people? So we can model Zorgos skills to our kids? Let’s turn to brain science to learn why it’s so hard to harness our deepest reactive emotions, and learn two emotional management skills to help us keep our cool.

Brain Science

Deep inside the brain is the amygdala whose job it is to ensure survival. Like a guard dog, it’s always watching for danger and ready to immediately and intensely sound the alarm. Once triggered, the emotional brain floods our body with hormones and chemicals that compel us to fight, flee, or freeze. The amygdala packs an emotional—and physical—wallop, and hijacks the thinking part of the brain! Our stress system goes haywire on red alert. Unable to think straight, we may quite literally be “out of our minds.”

This also happens to children. A child who is experiencing emotional flooding cannot hear you, and cannot be reasonable. Logic does not work during a meltdown or tantrum, so don’t waste your breath. Instead, be patient. Calm yourself. Calm and soothe your child. Be present and connect. Later on, after the storm passes, you’ll be able to talk about what happened. (Adapted from The Bullying Antidote, p. 283)

A Six-Second Grace Period

The intense emotional reactions of the amygdala have a life-or-death urgency. They run ahead of the thinking (cognitive) brain by six seconds. After the alarm sounds, it takes the thinking brain time to activate, evaluate the situation, calm the freaked-out emotional brain and RESPOND. This takes restraint. Do your best to hold off the strong urge to REACT for six seconds. You can harness that strong knee-jerk reaction – the “power-assertive method” — that can harm your child and that you’ll probably regret.

Mindfulness slows down a knee-jerk reaction to a second-by-second awareness of what is going on, inserting a pause that changes impulsive reactions to thoughtful responses. —The Bullying Antidote, page 198

Forget Counting to Ten – EXHALE!

The parasympathetic nervous system quiets the amygdala and tilts body, brain, and mind toward a sense of safety and well-being. It is activated through big exhalations. When you experience the next upset, instead of counting to ten, take a big, deep inhalation, hold it, then exhale gradually while relaxing, focusing on exhaling completely. Do that three or more times. Deep exhalations can harness strong emotions and make time for the rational thinking brain to regain equanimity. So the next time your child is distressed, soothe and calm him/her by connecting, and encourage him/her to blow out the hard feelings.

These emotional management tools corroborated by brain science can restrain the upsetting feelings of parents and children alike. They can strengthen connections and help us move beyond bullying.

Positive Parenting vs. Physical Discipline – NYTimes.com

I heard a talk show recently on NPR about corporal punishment in children. The interviewer returned to one panelist and said, “So, in your opinion, physical punishment doesn’t work.” The panelist responded, “It’s not my opinion, it’s proven research.” Here is some more information from the New York Times.

It is now well accepted that physical discipline is not only less effective than other non-coercive methods, it is more harmful than has often been understood — and not just to children. A review of two decades worth of studies has shown that corporal punishment is associated with antisocial behavior and aggression in children, and later in life is linked to depression, unhappiness, anxiety, drug and alcohol use and psychological maladjustment. Beyond beating, parents can also hurt children by humiliating them, labeling them in harmful ways (“Why are you so stupid?”), or continually criticizing their behavior.

Improving the way people parent might seem an impossible challenge, given the competing views about what constitutes good parenting. Can we influence a behavior that is rooted in upbringing and culture, affected by stress, and occurs mainly in private? And even if we could reach large populations with evidence-based messages the way public health officials got people to quit smoking, wear seat belts or apply sunscreen, would it have an impact?

That’s what was explored in South Carolina in recent years, and the answer appears to be yes. With funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a parenting system called the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, which was developed at the University of Queensland, Australia, was tested in nine counties across the state. Eighteen counties were randomly selected to receive either a broad dissemination of Triple P’s program or services as usual. The results were both highly promising and troubling.

Learn more about the Triple P program at The Benefits of Positive Parenting – NYTimes.com.

Keep in mind that corporal punishment is a common parenting practice used in cultures around the world, throughout history. The roots of bullying are deep.

Book signing TONIGHT 10/2 at 7p.m.

Local authors Dr. Louise Hart and Kristen Caven will be sharing FIVE INGREDIENTS of The Bullying Antidote at A Great Good Place for Books tonight.

Bestselling author Rick Hansen, who wrote The Buddha’s Brain, says it “provides parents with the knowledge and skills necessary to raise strong, resilient, assertive and emotionally healthy kids.” Jonathan Cohen, President of the National School Climate Center, highly recommends it. A recent trade reviewer said, “This is a well-written, understandable, and comprehensive book which your customers will be relieved to find on your shelves.” And one therapist wrote, “If you are looking for the definitive book on Bullying, you have found it. In fact, this book is so comprehensive, it covers societal factors, parenting styles, childhood development, self-esteem, emotional intelligence, brain science, best practices in schools, communication, and family dynamics, and all of the ways these factors contribute to the cause of—and then the solution to—bullying.”

It’s National Bullying Awareness Month, since this is the time kids are back to school and adapting to their new social scene.

If you know a parent anywhere who is struggling with bullying, be their child a bully or a target, please consider sending them the book this week. The authors are asking everyone they know to purchase a copy this weekend so their sales create a “blip” in the publishing world and their hopeful research can find its way into the hands of a wider range of parents.

The authors are also scheduling workshops and speaking engagements.

Link to the book’s resource blog: http://www.zorgos.wordpress.com

Link to the book’s FB page: https://www.facebook.com/TheBullyingAntidote

Please forward, thank you!

Kristen Caven & Dr. Louise Hart

http://www.kristencaven.com &  www.drlouisehart.com

via Book signing Wednesday 10/2 at 7p.m. | Kristen Caven.

A Minute of Silence for Peace.

Complaining is easy. Lashing out when we are hurt comes naturally. Bullying happens.

Peace, on the other hand, is hard. To live in happiness with others, we can’t always put ourselves first. We have to nurture our best intentions, and consciously and constantly point ourselves in the right direction. This needs to happen on the most intimate level, as well as in the grand political theater.

This Saturday is the International Day of Peace.  Set your alarms for noon. Every year on September 21, people around the world share a minute of silence at 12p.m. to contemplate, wish for, and create global peace. This U.N. Celebration is part of their Culture of Peace Initiative, designed to unite the strengths of organizations and individuals who are working to make Peace a practical reality.

EducationforPeace300

There are many resources available on their web page, highlighting this year’s theme, Education for Peace. One of my favorites is a free ebook with instructions to prepare a classroom of 3-6 year-olds for the Minute of Silence.

Peace Day will fall on a weekend this year, when kids are home with families. Take a little time before lunch to talk to your kids about these broad concepts of peace that we discuss in The Bullying Antidote:

  • Our needs and feelings are part of life and there is always a place for them. They guide us to listen to our intuition.
  • There are infinite possibilities and solutions to resolve challenges.
  • We have to pursue loving, relationship-focused attitudes.
  • Harmony, peace, and joy are normal experiences.

With the right frame of mind, any day can be Peace Day, even with the bumps and bruises life provides.  Hope yours is serene, sweet, and full of joy!